Music Preview: The War on Drugs, May 13 at Rock & Roll Hotel

Sunday, May 10, 2009

May 13 at Rock & Roll Hotel

(http://www.rockandrollhoteldc.com,

202-388-7625)

Lots of new cars come pre-loaded with satellite radio these days. If an old, beat-up station wagon bought specifically for a cross-country road trip came pre-loaded with music, it should be "Wagonwheel Blues," the 2008 debut album from Philadelphia's the War on Drugs. Adam Granduciel, the band's lone constant member, has crafted an album of modern Americana, steeped in the classic troubadour style of a guy and his guitar, but he fills the empty spaces with staticky, shoegazey sounds that shoot in from all directions. All the fuzz -- even the harmonica that opens "Arms Like Boulders" is caked in it -- fits his cloudy lyrical outlook, full of references to coasts, roads and highways. It's the sound of a restless person constantly on the lookout for . . . something. It's hard to tell exactly what, but it's fun to listen in on his journey.

-- David Malitz


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